Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Matthew 7:21-29 for June 1st

Matthew 7:21-29
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Come on and sing with me now: "The wise man built his house upon the rock, the wise man built his house up the rock. And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and floods came up. And the house on the rock stood firm." Its a good kid's song that includes motions. But how many people have been flooded out, because they weren't built on the rock? Florida where I grew up was all sand, and you just didn't build on it, you had to make a good foundation. And if you built on the beach you were likely to get washed away. But this parable refers Perhaps he thinks of the houses being built beside and in a Palestinian wadi, a ravine with steep sides. Dry in the summer, it turns into a raging torrent when the rains come. The “wise man” (v. 24) prepares for what is to come by going to the effort of building on the side of the ravine, but the “foolish man” (v. 26) does not think ahead and so takes the easy way. Jesus has just finished the Sermon on the Mount and talks about building your house on the rock. Mount ----Rock. Is there a connection with the words here as well?

What is the foundation for your life? Have you heard the words of God and put them into practice? or have you done just the opposite? In Huntsville where we are buying a new house, the Realtor kept telling us about the type of clay that was there that shifted and often messed up the foundations and structures of the houses. She told us that even with her own house she has had to have work done to shore up the foundation. If your own life foundation is not built on the Rock how can you shore up your foundation or move to be on the rock?

And lets not leave out how this passage begins with "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Pretty powerful words from Jesus to the point "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Even more powerful words.

If this is your chosen passage for Sunday how will you preach it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Romans 1:16-17; 3:19-31

For Sunday the scripture is Romans 1:16-17; 3:19-31

1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

3:19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

In these two verses of chapter one, Paul establishes the theme of his letter. Paul writes concerning the gospel, a news-report that tells us of the righteousness of God, of his faithfulness to his promises.

When John Wesley grasped the full meaning of St. Paul's doctrine of justification by grace through faith in 1738, the fire of the "Great Awakening" was kindled. The occasion was a prayer meeting in Aldersgate St. London, at which Martin Luther's "Preface to the Epistle to the Romans" was read. Wesley, like most other Anglican clergy at the time, had forgotten the substance of the gospel. He was a pietist; staying a believer and progressing in the Christian life was a matter of effort - obedience to the law of God. Wesley had forgotten that through faith in Christ he was totally acceptable to God; he stood approved in the sight of God. At that time, the English church was a dry and cold affair and so most of the revivalists left and formed Wesleyan congregations. Some of those who grasped the full meaning of the gospel and its power to effect salvation for the lost, remained in the Anglican church rather than leave it and join with their "Methodist" friends. They were called "Evangelicals" - believers loyal to the gospel of God's grace, and loyal to the "reformed catholic faith" (Anglicanism). They could remain committed to the Anglican church because they understood that the gospel itself is the power of God for the salvation of the lost, not institutional organisation. This understanding of the gospel was to fire many other churches and has continued to do so up till today. How have we lost this fire, this full meaning of the gospel? How have we become ashamed of it and hidden it away? Is this message still relevant for today?

Romans 3:21 resumes the thesis statement of 1:16–17, as Paul unpacks the idea of how the coming, dying, and rising of Jesus Christ performs God's salvific "righteousness" The statement, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (3:23), essentially summarizes the context of 1:18–3:20. In response to humanity's sorry state, God does at least three things through Jesus Christ: God justifies, God redeems, and God effects atonement . From Working

This is also an inclusive message, and yet we often exclude. We somehow feel better than others, especially those who sin or aren't saved. Is this what has caused the fire to go out?

If you are choosing to preach this passage this Sunday, how will you preach it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gen 6:9-22, 7:24, 8:14-19 for this Sunday

Here is the Old Testament Passage for this Sunday Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19
6:9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.
6:10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
6:12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.
6:13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.
6:14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
6:15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
6:16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks.
6:17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.
6:18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
6:19 And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.
6:20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.
6:21 Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them."
6:22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
7:24 And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.
8:14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
8:15 Then God said to Noah,
8:16 "Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you.
8:17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh--birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth--so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth."
8:18 So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives.
8:19 And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

It is the beloved story from our child hood days. Churches decorate their nurseries and children's rooms with Noah Ark pictures. People do the same with their homes. My kids can tell you the story. Its when we get older that the innocence of this story wears away and you have quite an ugly picture of human beings doing what they wanted when the wanted. Then God gets mad and destroys the earth with a flood. Only Noah and his family is spared, and two of every kind of living animal. Why them? Well, its says he was a righteous person and walked with God.

How righteous are we and how do we walk with God? What does it mean to be righteous? The Hebrew word translated “righteous” (tseqeh) can equally be translated “just”, because the word has about it not the sense of moral fastidiousness but rather of acting justly, equitably and compassionately towards humanity and of being in a covenantal relationship with God. The implication of the word is that one is living in obedience to God’s call and thus is following God’s moral standards in one’s commitment to humanity.

God promised to never flood the earth again, yet if we look around us we live in times very much like Noah's. What's the difference? Are we to make a difference? Is it time for another ark?

If God told us to build an ark or do something as spetacular as that, would we do it? Could we withstand the putdowns from those around us or just being different, living differently than others? Would we stay as righteous as Noah did?

In 2007 Evan Almighty was made as the story of Noah. There were some parts that could have been shored up. But they did get the part right of Noah doing what God asked him to do.

A lot of people wish that God would once again destroy the bad people, but if they got their wish would they be one of those people and not know it?

You might want a little fun with it, by adding What I learned from Noah's Ark.

Or you could use Bill Cosby's Noah's Ark

So how will you preach the Genesis passage this Sunday?
artwork; Edward Hick's Noah's Ark

Monday, May 26, 2008

Proper 4A/Ordinary 9A/Pentecost +3

The scriptures for this coming Sunay, June 1 are:

Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19 God commands Noah to build the ark. God floods the ear after finding mostly sinful people on the earth. Noah is spared on the ark with his family and two of every kind of animal. After 400 days the waters ceded and they were able to come out on dry land. It is important to know that Noah was a righteous man who walked with God (Genesis 6:9). (You could begin sermon series on the Genesis stories.)

Romans 1:16-17, 3:22b-28, (29-31) What is the gospel? It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith. Why? Because we have all sinned. It is not by our power or might of good works that we are saved but we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God does at least three things through Jesus Christ: God justifies, God redeems, and God effects atonement to deal with the state of humans. When Paul thought of atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus' blood, he had in mind the whole Jewish liturgy for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The liturgy provided for the shedding of the blood of innocent animal victims, one whose blood was sprinkled symbolically on both the altar and on the people, and one driven away into the wilderness bearing the sins of the people away. This annual celebration provided Jews with an awareness of God's forgiveness and a renewed consciousness of their worthiness to regard themselves as the covenant people having a special relationship with God. This liturgy once more been established their special relationship with the God who had faithfully preserved them as God's chosen people through the ages. Since their God could only be regarded as holy, their covenanted relationship with God restored them to the status of a holy people. (You could begin a series on Romans beginning with this Sunday and going for the next 16 Sundays of the lectionary.)

Matthew 7:21-29 Do we just say Lord, Lord? Or do we do the will of God? Do we prophesy in his name? Do we cast out demons in his name? Do we do a lot of good deeds? Guess what those thing won't get us into heaven. Nope, not according to Jesus. He says we are to listen to his words and act on them. The parable Jesus tells illustrates what he means. This ending to the "sermon" challenges us to live what we believe, rather than just go through the routines of devotion. Above all else, Jesus spurned those whose behaviour revealed their hypocrisy because their actions did not correspond with their pious words. This concludes the sermon on the mount.

So, which passage will you preaching this Sunday?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday prayer, Memorial Day Weekend

Merciful God,

Have mercy on us in our shortcomings, our failings, our railings against you and our sins.Have mercy on us when we presume we can use war to fix what's wrong with the world or regions of the world.Have mercy on us when we send young men and women to do the work of those who stay behind and decide when and where to send them, whose lives are then shed on fields we sent them to protect.Have mercy on us when we don't honor those who naively put on the uniform to serve, who are too young to understand, and who have hope to make a difference. Have mercy on us when we don't remember those who did give their lives on foriegn soil in wars numbered, named and un-named.Have mercy on us when we ourselves cause war in our homes, our families, our friends, our work, our neighbors, our churches and within ourselves. Have mercy on us, Lord. Thank you for your loving mercy, Lord. Remind us that blessed are the peacemakers, for we shall be called children of God.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Pentecost 2A/O8/Proper 3

Greetings on this bright Sunny Monday morning; How did Trinity Sunday go in your church? Now on to this week's lectionary;

Isaiah 49:8-16a Isaiah has some wonderful imagery here to work with. It is a image of hope and restoration. And yet as Safiya Fosua at Preaching Helps asks who is the "you" in the passage? Are we the you? Is Israel the you? But it also lifts up the imagery of Mother God, Mother Zion, and yes, Mother church. How do your people need this image today? How do we need to come out and show ourselves or how do we need to be inviting others to do so, and creating an environment to do so?
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 4:1 Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. What does it mean to be the servant of Christ and the steward of these mysteries? How do we live this out as the church? Have we been found trust worthy? How do we hold each other accountable without destructive criticism and judgmentalism getting in the picture? How do we encourage, challenge and affirm our servant hood and stewardship?
Matthew 6:24-34 "The Hippie/Flower Child/Godspell" passage. Actually its the " You can't serve two masters passage, cause if you do, you will be owned by one and will find yourself in a heap of anxiety passage." So how is one to live? How do we strive first for the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things will be added unto us? How does our recent oil/food crisis impact this? What about the issue of why 20 somethings aren't coming to church? And what about the recent article about how the young evangelicals are looking at elections this time around? How do your members need to hear this passage? It is important to know In the Greek text the verb “to worry” that Jesus uses repeatedly in this passage is merimnate which, as Ronald J. Allen points out in Volume 3 of The Lectionary Commentary (Eerdmans 2001) really carried more of the sense of “fear” in the first century—in particular what people “feared” was tribulations in the end time and also other insufficiencies of life. Worry and fear are first cousins in any event. (Taken from This week at Calvin Seminary)

So now, what passage will you be preaching on this Sunday and what direction?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Gracious God,

Thank you for this new day.

Thank you for the opportunity to worship as your body of Christ.

Thank you for the Holy Spirit who fills us with the truth and wisdom.

Holy one, we pray for those who are suffering in China from Earthquakes, Myanmar from the Cyclone, and those who suffer from starvation.

Lord we pray for your peace with justice throughout your whole world.

And now;

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.

Art work of He Qui

cross posted at St John's Rev Abi and RevGalBlogPals


Saturday, May 17, 2008

In preparation for Trinity Sunday

A prayer for Trinity Sunday, based on Matthew 28.16-20.Holy God, Three in One, you are our eternal hope,our companion in life,our liberating power. Lead us in your mission,baptizing and teaching in your blessed name,so that all may worship youto the end of the age.Posted by David Gambrell
Trinity Window- Robert Thewsey: a window designed by Geoffrey Clark. A fantastic West Window entitled 'The Trinity Window'. Robert often sits in church looking at this window and contemplating the Trinity. Manchester, England

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Trinity Sunday A

Just what is this Trinity, and is it a made up thing like the Divinity Code says?

The feast of Holy Trinity is one of the oldest feasts of the church, though it was not part of the official church calendar until 1334. It can be traced to the reaction to the Arian heresy, and is linked with the Nicene Creed of 325. It was especially popular in the English church, possibly because of its association with St. Thomas a Becket, who was consecrated bishop on Trinity Sunday in 1162. Explaining the origin of Trinity Sunday is easy. Explaining the doctrine of the Trinity itself is less easy.
Although it was not spelled out until the fourth century, the notion of the Trinity is implicit in the Gospels. Jesus said (in the Gospel we read last time I spoke), "I go to the Father, and he will send you the Paraclete": thus, three persons. And again, in today's Gospel, the identity of two of those is established: "I will be with you always".
There is a story about a priest who visited the second grade Sunday school and asked the kids if they knew what the Trinity was. Bobby, who had just lost his two front teeth, shot his hand up and the priest called on him to explain the Trinity. He answered rapidly and excitedly, with his toothless lisp, "It'th three perthons in one God." The priest, confused by the lisp and the speed of the reply, said "I don't understand." To which Bobby shot back "You're not thupothed too; it'th a mythtery!"
Over at hedwyg, one of the revgalblogpals, she takes on this Mystery of the Trinity in a very thoughtful way.
e~mergent kiwi used the icon by Rublev for a chidlren's sermon, and lives to tell about it.
check out the lectionary notes by Beth Quick, another one of the revgals, is worth a read also.
revgalblogpals has its Tuesday's Lectionary Leanings which this time look at the passages for Trinity Sunday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Trinity Sunday A

this Sunday is Trinity Sunday A with the following passages:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8 (UMH 743)
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20
Online texts are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

But wait, it's also:
Peace with Justice Sunday
and it is also: Heritage Sunday in the Methodist church
but don't forget the May is also Mental Health Month.

So what's a preacher/worship leader to do? Do you combine all the events into the worship service and preach on the Trinity? Do you combine all into your sermon? What will you do?
At our church we are also honoring the graduates. That adds another piece to the mix if you are also doing that.

Here is an intro to the scriptures:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a Here is the creation story of Genesis. Human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Human beings were immediately given a leadership role (Genesis 1:28). Human beings were provided for (Genesis 1:29-30). And God saw that all of creation was good.
Psalms 8 is a Psalms I used once on a Confirmation Sunday. verse 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; verse 4 What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? verse 6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.
2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Paul tells them goodbye and tells them to put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. And to greet one another with a holy kiss. verse 13 gives us the trinity though; The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Matthew 18:16-20 First, The disciples went to the place where Jesus had told them to go. Second in verse 16 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. then in verse 17And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. and finally the great commission to go make disciples.

You could use the Nicene Creed as part of your sermon, liturgy or begin a series on the Creed.
Read On the Trinity by John Wesley, sermon #55 as part of your sermon preparation.
You might also read the article by Daniel Benedict on Trinity Sunday.
The Trinity As a Clue to Community David H.C. Read is worth a read for your prep.
I like the title of the article by Mary Anderson; So Explain it to me.
And if you are at a church where they are okay with visuals and movies; go to Hollywood Jesus for some
Insights from symbolic representations of Christian trinity in Hollywood movies.
William Willimon has a sermon from his days at Duke with the title;The Extravagance of Trinitarian Faith. Just the title alone will preach.

There are a lot more links to be found at the Text this Week; with a lot more commentaries, sermons, worship ideas.
There will be more to follow in the next days on the various scriptures.

art work is Rublev's Trinity

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Pentecost Letdown?

In Sunday's sermon, our guest preacher pointed out how little emphasis we put on Pentecost. And she is right. It comes 50 days after Easter, after Easter Season in the year of the church. There is no build up to it like Christmas and Easter. You don't go buy cards, candies or gifts to hand out as part of Pentecost celebration. Can you imagine what it would be like if Hallmark/WalMart got a hold of it? Its bad enough that this year, Pentecost and Mother's day were on the same day. Lost again behind Mother's day in the midst of a consumer world. How is the church to celebrate Pentecost then? What does it matter? We are more likely to refer to the period of time after Pentecost Sunday as Ordinary time than Season of Pentecost. It is true though our lives are more lived in ordinary time and ordinary ways and ordinary moments. Not every day is a high, every moment a high moment, or every way a high way. Truthfully though we live in a culture that keeps looking for the high, the next high moment, high time, high way, high of some sorts.

While the Day of Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the remaining weeks call the Church to focus on the Spirit's power and to make Christ known through its life and mission, carrying out Jesus' mandate to "go to the people of all nations" (Matthew 28:19,20). The post-Pentecost Church is a Spirit-led pilgrim church, embarking on its journey in mission.

So here we are as Preachers and worship leaders to help the members of our church experience God during this season of Pentecost and Ordinary time. How can we do this? What is it we are called to preach? How will we worship God during these times?

art by Nora Kelly

Pentecost/Mother's Sunday's prayer

Gracious God, who did send down your Holy Spirit to birth your church, rain down your Holy Spirit afresh today, Heal the broken hearted, the divisions in our churches, the stuck ones, the proud ones, the desperate ones, the lonely ones, those who have given up and quit trying. Forgive us for where we have closed ourselves to your Holy Spirit, where we have impeded the Holy Spirit, or where we have stood in the way. Come Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of us your faithful, kindle in us your love that we may love you, others, and ourselves. Come Holy Spirit, renew your people, pour into us the power of your creativity; that your light will shine in the dark places of this world.

Holy one, we also today lift up moms everywhere; we who are moms presently, our moms, moms to be, moms who are now gone on from us, moms whose children have died before them, moms all around the world. We pray for those whose moms weren't able to really parent them, who were abusive, or had mental illnesses, or drug or alcohol abuses, other problems that affected their mothering. We pray for those who are childless not by choice; those who may be trying different medical treatments, or going through the adoption processes, or other means, or those who can't afford it at all. We pray for those who are not mothers by choice; whether by timing, situation, or just by choice, we don't want to leave them out as you don't. Lord we pray for moms whose children have made them happy and those whose children have disappointed them. We pray for those moms in countries that have less than we do trying to make sure their kids have the basics. We pray for those moms in countries who have to figure out how to protect their kids from war, the rebels, the terrorists, and the means of war left behind. And we pray for those moms, who have been through the recent natural disasters trying to remake life, provide shelter, and who may also grieve the death of their children.

We pray all this and more through the power of your Holy Spirit who birthed the church, and through the name of Jesus, Amen.

posted at st john's rev abi and revgalblogpals


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prayer for Pentecost

O living God, come and make our souls temples of thy Spirit.Sanctify us, O Lord. Baptise thy whole Church with fire, that the divisions soon may cease, and that it may stand before the world as a pillar and buttress of thy truth.Sanctify us, O Lord.Grant us all the fruits of thy Holy Spirit: brotherly love, joy, peace, patience, goodwill and faithfulness.Sanctify us, O Lord.May the Holy Spirit speak by the voice of thy servants, here and everywhere, as they preach thy word.Sanctify us, O Lord.Send thy Holy Spirit, the comforter, to all who face adversity, or who are the victims of men's wickedness.Sanctify us, O Lord.Preserve all nations and their leaders from hatred and war, and build up a > community among nations, through the power of thy Spirit.Sanctify us, O Lord.Holy Spirit, Lord and source of life, giver of the seven gifts,Sanctify us, O Comforter.Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Spirit of counsel and strength,Sanctify us, O Comforter.Spirit of knowledge and devotion, Spirit of obedience to the Lord.Sanctify us, O Comforter.
Prayer of Taize Community

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pentecost; John's perspective

The lectionary passage from John for the UMC this Sunday is; John 7: 37-39 37On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 20:19-31 is the alternative passage.

What a beautiful image that out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water. This is what Jesus said about the Spirit which believers were to receive. The Acts passage gives us the image of wind and fire. The John passage gives us the image of water. But first Jesus offers for anyone who thirsty come to me. And if you believe drink. So it is the image of having our thirst quenched, and that then from us proceeds these rivers of living waters. This is a possible allusion to several passages from Isaiah (12:3; 44:3; 55:1) and perhaps baptism. But this is a reminder of God giving the children of Israel water from the rock as they journeyed through the desert. Every day during the feast of Tabernacles, water from the pool of Siloam would be taken to the temple as a reminder. Jesus was at the Feast of the Tabernacles(Sukkot in Jerusalem. While there, he went into the Temple and began to teach.

The "great day" of the festival (John 7:37) probably refers to the day of Simchas Torah. In later rabbinic Judaism, this was the day that marked the ending AND the new beginning of the daily readings from Torah, as the final readings from Deuteronomy were completed and Genesis 1 would be taken up immediately to start the new lectionary year. Torah itself was understood to be the "living water" (or flowing stream), as the Psalms often refer to it, beginning with Psalm 1. The words of Jesus in the temple on Simchas Torah were thus incredibly provocative.

Yesterday we were at the park and looking in the ponds. They were stagnant, and full of algae, yet there were fish in them, some geese and turtles. However if some things aren't done, they will be come dead pools of water. They are too hot, and not ariated enough. The Holy Spirit is not a stagnant pool of water. It is not a torrent or a flood or tsunami. Yes it is alive and moving but it won't drown you or overtake you.

Maybe this is what they mean by not quenching the spirit. Maybe by the stagnant nature of so many of our churches we have quenched the spirit. Maybe by stopping the flow of the Holy Spirit in our churches we have quenched the spirit. Maybe by not making sure it is flowing out of us to others we quench the spirit. Maybe the anger, bitterness, hatred, un-forgiveness, clogs the water and makes it stagnant.

Drinking Jesus is the key here (7:38). You want the flowing living water of the Holy Spirit in your life, you have got to drink Jesus. It's like that old commercial "Obey your thirst."

The prophet Ezekiel referred to them in this fashion when he prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit: I will pour out upon you, God says there, clean waters and will put my spirit in the midst of you [Ez. 36:25-27].

Jan Richardson has an interesting take on Pentecost at her blog "Painted Prayer Book"

we humans are 78% water. 70% of Earth’s surface is covered by water. And of that water, over 97% is as salty as seawater . . . because it is! Which means 3% (or less) is fresh water. And—more wet math!—about 2/3 of that 3% is “fresh frozen” in the polar ice caps. Fresh, drinkable, living H2O is precious

Ways to Enliven Your Pentecost Celebration

Pentecost Sunday

And Mother's day all on the same Sunday? Just what is one to do with this Sunday? How is one to preach?

For those of us who are UMC, here are the scriptures from the Lectionary;
  • Acts 2:1-21
  • Psalm 104:24-34, 35b (UMH 826)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
  • John 7:37-39
  • Vanderbilt Divinity Library offers the lectionary passages online.

    Acts 2:1-21 begins with those well known words, "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place." Isn't it key that they were all gathered together in one place. place.
    Next we read: "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting." It was sudden, it was a sound that they had no words for other than saying; "like a rush of a violent wind." And this sound filled the house entirely. Well, either they were all of a sudden in the midst of a blizzard, tornado, cyclone or hurricane. If you have been in the middle of either of those; you know how loud and fierce the sound can be, it is overwhelming, and heart pounding.
    Next; "Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them." Fired often divides and can look like tongues licking at whatever is around it as it is fed by oxygen. What a powerful image. But then we are told "a tongue rested on them." They were not consumed by the fire, burned up but a single tongue rested on each of them.
    This is what that one tongue of fire did; "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." Not one was left out of this feast, everybody got some. And everybody was given a language to speak as the Spirit gave them ability. Too many times we worry about what gift, what ability we bring to the table. Stop worrying, the scripture tells us God has got you covered. Now use it.

    Well, as you read further, you read how everybody was amazed that these Galileans whom they assumed to be uneducated could speak in these different languages and understand others as well. You just can't limit God and the work of the Holy Spirit in humans. It is outside our little boxes. And what did those hearing and seeing this say. They were like any human being, when we don't understand something; we give it a label, call it a name, and more often than not something not nice. But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine." All I got to say is, "give me some of that new wine, then."

    I was speaking to a young man from China who was our Waiter yesterday at a local restaurant. I had responded in Chinese to something he said to me in Chinese. And I said, "I am sorry if I didn't pronounce it right, I am from the south and we just cannot pronounce the Chinese language properly." I think it is good to try to speak the language as you are able and to try to pronounce it as correctly as you can. But in my trying to be respectful, I have often found out later, I had said words that have other meanings. Whoops. I wish I could speak Chinese. I wish the Holy Spirit would give me the gift to do so as I am able. What language do you wish you could speak to be able to relate to others different than yourself, so that the message of Christ was spread?

    I can speak a little Spanish, but I am out of practice. I worked on getting back in practice when living in Wadley where we had so many from Hispanic countries immigrating there to work. As I spoke and listened I got a little better each day. Growing up in Florida speaking and listening helped along with the required classes in HS and College. What language have you studied that God can use in you to get the message across?

    Better yet, what are some of your gifts and graces that God has gifted you with that can be utilized to reach others. We got a young man in our church who plays baseball, and plays it well.
    We got a young woman who has just the sunniest disposition you will ever meet. We have a man who lays floors, he meets people I will never meet on a daily basis. We have an older man who has spent his life volunteering his time at the local volunteer Fire Dept.

    How has the one tongue of the Holy Spirit like fire rested on you?

    From the other side of it, just how have you tried to put that flame out? How have others over lifetime done that to you? How have you even tried to do the same to others? How have you tried to be like others? Or fit in? How have people tried to do that to you? How have you done that yourself to others?

    Because you see the bottom line is in verse 21 "Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." The outpouring of the Holy Spirit comes about so that then everyone will call on the name of the Lord and be saved. It isn't just to make you feel better, look better, preach better, or speak better. It is so that everyone will call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

    And the Holy Spirit is for every one, not just males, not just the educated, not just us Protestants, not just the middle class, not just us here in the USA, not just those at a certain age. No, read these verses;
    2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

    2:17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

    2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

    So what are your thoughts on these scriptures? I'll be writing more each day on the other scriptures as well. So hang on for the Pentecost Ride this week. And may the one tongue rest on you so that everyone will call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

    For some more resources on Pentecost Sunday go to Text this Week Check out the various links and resources you will find there. Follow also the link to the resources for the Acts passage as well.

    Picture of Pentecost Quilt
    Linda Schmidt Textile Artist, Quilter, Designer

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Sunday's Prayer: Ascension Sunday

    Gracious, loving God,

    Here we are our Lord, once again finding ourselves looking up for Jesus, looking in so many places for God knows what sometimes. Sometimes God it seems if we are just looking for ourselves. God in the midst of all of this world’s distractions, business, and activities that we can all get lost in to where we can’t really see you; help us in the midst of this moment to see you. Help us in this moment of quiet, stillness, and a slow breath, see ourselves clearly see you. As we go about our day, help us to have eyes to see you.

    And God just for a moment let others see Jesus in us. Amen

    Ascension at Radiant Light


    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    prayer for Sermon prep for 7A/Ascension Sunday

    Almighty God,
    As we prepare to preach, teach, and lead worship, guide our hearts our thoughts our words our hands.
    It is so difficult for those of us who did not grow up in a faith tradition that saw this to be an important part of what they taught or preached to wrap our minds around the Ascension.
    That may be a good thing, because we don't take it for granted that everybody out there knows the words, the scripture and its meaning. But God help us not to then over load everybody out there.
    And it may be a good thing that we are from the traditions that did include it in its teachings and practice, because we are comfortable with it and can move beyond just teaching to the depth of the experience.
    Where ever we are today with this Lord, inspire us that we too may be an inspiration to others, just as your son inspired those that day of ascension so long ago.

    Dinah Roe-Kendall's acrylic painting of the Ascension of Jesus

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    Focus on Acts 1

    saying goodbye is the hardest thing you have to do, and yet it is the one thing we all have to do at one point or another in your life.

    If you haven't had a chance check out Walter Brueggemann Blogging toward Sunday at Christian Century for some of his reflections on Acts 1.
    cartoon from The Back Pew